Berkeley High School yearbooks recalled for ‘offensive and racist’ text

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Update 6/11/15: This article has been updated to reflect an email signed by students in Berkeley High’s Academy of Medicine and Public Service. 

Berkeley High School administrators have recalled the school’s yearbook after reports of inappropriate language on one of its pages, according to an email announcement sent by the school’s principal the evening of June 3.

The text describes Berkeley High’s Academy of Medicine and Public Service, or AMPS — a college preparatory program — as “making our future doctors, dentists, nurses, physicians, fire chiefs and trash collators of tomorrow.” A photo of the offending page was tweeted by the school’s Black Student Union’s Twitter account June 3.

In the email announcement, Berkeley High principal Kristin Glenchur called the phrase “offensive and racist” and said yearbook distribution will be halted until the language is removed. Corrected versions of the yearbook will be distributed to AMPS seniors for free.

“What occurred does not just affect the AMPS community, but has had a profound and hurtful impact on all of us,” Glenchur said in the email.

An email announcement signed by several AMPS students was sent Monday to clarify the “importance and severity” of the yearbook comment. According to the email, AMPS students have previously been the target of stereotyping. Although formerly called the Community Partnership Academy, the group was referred to as the Colored People Academy by some students.

“It is very saddening that we will spend our lives proving our worth, but it’s an even harder blow that we must prove ourselves in the institution that is supposed to protect us,” the email said. “People who cannot relate must come to the realization that racism and classism are large factors that exist on Berkeley High’s campus.”

The school’s yearbook staff, according to the June 3 email, has taken collective responsibility for not catching the error and is preparing an apology.

 

G. Haley Massara is a news editor. Contact them at [email protected] and follow them on Twitter @BylineGraph.

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  • New_Apple_iHate

    Ni##ers and sp!cs should consider themselves lucky to be trash collectors in the USA instead of being stuck in their crappy ancestral homelands…

  • beejaycat

    The text is riddled with grammar and spelling errors. Perhaps AMPS should also apologize for not educating the students.

  • Kenn Daily

    The White Student Union did not comment because white affinity groups are “offensive and racist.”

  • Deapster

    Academy for …..Public Service. Since when was identifying those who choose highly compensated public service a slur. it is an excellent career choice for those lucky enough to get inducted into its ranks.

    Check out Transparent California to see what public service pays these days , plus the best pensions on the block. If people of color are smart enough to sign up for these public service jobs at any level, this should be celebrated.

  • 1kenthomas

    From Mexico City tonight: you have got to be kidding me.
    Or as a close friend, just off a plane from Mexico City, put it to me as we were having lunch on College in ’04: this place is unbelievable. Babies are dying in the suburbs of Mexico City because they have to walk in their own sewage, and people in Berkeley are still having arguments about how someone looked at them five years ago, made them feel bad.
    There are real-world issues, and there is trivial BS. What pretentious, self-absorbed blindness. Not to mention that the interpretation that the phrase is “racism,” is just– ridiculous (and those of you who know me from me calling people racist on DC threads…).
    Would love to see the First Amendment lawsuit, or bring it. But this is absolutely ridiculous, and the admins– deserve to be sacked, not to have responsibility for teaching children *values.*

    • Deapster

      Shhhhhhh …don’t damage the snowflakes. We spent the last 20 years raising them.

  • http://Batmannananana.com/ Caesar Merlin

    what a waste of money.

    • 1kenthomas

      We are in agreement, rare as that may seem.

    • JO

      U a chump son

  • “Fango”

    Hm, it says “collators” not “collectors”, folks. Big difference in meaning! A trash collector is a human; a trash collator is a machine. Everyone is upset because they are reading it as trash collector and taking offense. If I was a trash collector, I’d be really angry that a trash collector was being insinuated as a really bad thing to be. Wake up people, every profession must be respected instead of disdained as is happening her. Shame on everyone involved in this story: the pranksters, the people failing to read it as “collator”, as well as the people interpreting it as “collector” and then taking offense implying that that trash collectors are sub-humans.

    • still trying

      After more than 25 years living in Berkeley, The “Trash Collectors” are the only City employee that earns their salary. I see them working in bad weather, hot weather,and holidays, picking up tons of trash Cal students toss onto our streets and sidewalks, treating our town as a giant trash can. If it were not for them, Berkeley residents would be buried under their trash.

    • 1kenthomas

      Maybe the kids were making a joke. Maybe they meant “future trash machines.” Maybe, they should get a little room to play with the ambiguity and complexity of language.
      One thing is clear– their First Amendment rights to expression, just got stomped on by a government entity. And of course if there is a lawsuit, it’ll probably get paid for by the taxpayers, not the arrogant and ignorant administrators.

  • Monica

    It is racist because the statement hearkens to the stereotypes of African and Latino Americans as only being able to attain “garbage collecting” goals. A job historically held by low edudated adults. First, many garbage collectors if you would call them that are highly trained individuals that earn handsome salaries. Second, whomever added this to the yearbook should’ve checked their work for grammatical errors. That being said; to the graduates, never let anyone and their fear of your succes diminsh your inner light that guides you to your dreams.

  • Monica

    It is racist because the statement hearkens to the stereotypes of African and Latino Americans as only being able to attain “garbage collecting” goals. A job historically held by low edudated adults. First, many garbage collectors if you would call them that are highly trained individuals that earn handsome salaries. Second, whomever added this to the yearbook should’ve checked their work for grammatical errors. That being said; to the graduates, never let anyone and their fear of your succes diminsh your inner light that guides you to your dreams.

    • mogden

      Where is the linkage to African and Latino Americans? That is what I do not understand from the article.

      • Flora

        AMPS has a history of its students being predominantly African-American/Latino. Working with students in the academy I have come to know that some students that are not in AMPS refer to AMPS as the “African-American and Mexican School” because of its demographics. At one point AMPS had another name, but was changed by administration because it came to their attention its acronym was radicalizing students of color in discriminatory ways.

        • mogden

          OK, thanks, that nugget of information would have made the article easier to understand.

        • John Paul

          It says trash collators….

  • mogden

    I may be missing the point, but what is racist about it? The English is certainly terrible, I will grant you that.